For the first week of March, a new beginning on this site. And, gluten-free Irish soda bread.
Welcome! We’ve made a few changes around here. Let me give you a tour.
Danny and I have been talking about how we would like this place to feel for the past year or so. This site has been my home since 2005 and it needed some construction on a few rooms, as well as a good spring cleaning.
Since last May, I’ve been drawing squares on paper, connecting them with curvy arrows, and trying to figure out how everything on this site should connect. (I’ve since been told that I was constructing a wireframe.) Thanks to our dear friend Trish, we have a more coherent vision of how this site should function. We had the capacity for a newsletter for years and thousands of people signed for up it, yet we sent out no newsletters until very recently. And how anyone signed up is beyond me, because even I couldn’t find the page for it sometimes! Now, look at that, a clean clear subscription page. Sign up now to receive our weekly newsletter, with content only for newsletter subscribers: gluten-free tips, cookbooks we are loving (and giveaways too), recipes we are loving, stories that are moving us, and recipes exclusive to those readers who join us there. (We’re going to make announcements for any new endeavors or events there too. Sign up now. We have some big news for you in a couple of weeks.)
As a thank you for subscribing to our newsletter, we’d like to offer you a detailed guide for how to eat gluten-free in restaurants. Readers have been asking for this for awhile, so we’ve compiled all the knowledge we’ve gained from Danny’s decades of working as a chef and our time together in restaurants to help you eat well. We have also included a list of our favorite restaurants in Seattle and on Vashon.
Thanks to our friend Michael Knodt at Spun Sugar Creative, we have a logo. (If you need any design work done, talk to Michael. He’s fantastic.) A logo! We’ve never had a logo for gluten-free girl before, just those three words in various fonts. Thank you to Michael for working with us so patiently, listening to all our ideas about what gluten-free girl means to us. I love that whisk and pen nib in the swooping logo — the chef and the writer at work.
I’ve updated our About Us page, to reflect where we are now. There’s a brief introduction, quite a few Frequently Asked Questions, and a long version of our story. As you might have noticed, we switched the name back to gluten-free girl instead of gluten-free girl and the chef. Danny and I are equal partners in the work around here. I’m the more public face of it but this is a true partnership. That’s why I wanted and the chef at the end originally. However, we both recognize that gluten-free girl is easier to say and looks better on a package. So, we return.
We’ve reimagined our recipe index so it’s much easier to navigate now. I still have a lot of work to do now, to edit old recipes, add photographs to old posts (there are some grey screens in there), and tighten up the entire site. But you can find recipes now!
Are you new to gluten-free? Read this section first before you dive into the archives. We have a guide for those who are brand new to gluten-free, a guide to gluten-free baking, and a brand-new, voluminous guide to living well, gluten-free. You will feel more hopeful about your life without gluten after reading all that.
Thank you to our friend David Waterworth for taking all the drawings and imaginings I did on paper, much of it confusing, and making the design clean and clear and now, finally alive. You’re amazing, David.
Mostly, a giant thank you to Eli Van Zoren, the most patient, calm, and immediately responsive developer out there. Eli, you rock. Thank you for answering my thousand and three questions with such poise.
Welcome to our home. We’re so glad you’re here.
Would you like some warm Irish soda bread?
gluten-free Irish soda bread
I’ve made quite a few loaves of gluten-free Irish soda bread over the years. It’s only now, when baking with gluten-free flours is less new discovery and more muscle memory, that I realize how simple it is. This is peasant bread, the kind of food women would make right before dinner, throwing together handfuls of flour, soda, salt, and soured milk, mixing together the dough by feel. Put it in a cast-iron pan and let it bake while you’re making the rest of the meal and there’s something crunchy, ready for good butter, to fill the family.
You don’t need xanthan gum or psyllium husk or anything unusual to make this bread. We use our gluten-free all-purpose flour here, but you might find a combination of flours that work better for your family. (If you use a different flour blend, you might need more or less buttermilk. Pay attention to the dough, not the amount.) Other than that, it’s salt, soda, and buttermilk. Easy peasy.
According to this fervent website, traditional Irish soda bread does not contain any of the fancy fillings that Americans have added to it. No caraway or candied fruit, whiskey, and certainly no chocolate. And no currants. Add raisins or currants and you’ve made something called spotted dog. This recipe for spotted dog also uses an egg and a touch of sugar. Okay. I’m an American, only partly of Irish descent. I like the tiny sweetness the currants lend to this bread. Leave them out and it’s still a mighty decent quick bread for a cold night.
Prepare to bake. Heat the oven to 425°. Put a small cast-iron skillet in the oven to heat with the oven.
Make the dough. Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Add the currants and stir. Pour in the buttermilk. Here’s where you pay attention. Stir together the dry ingredients and the buttermilk. It will seem too dry at first. Keep stirring. Stir together the dough until it is all wet crumbles with no patches of dry flour. It won’t come together as a solid dough at this point. Pinch a bit between your fingers. Does it cohere as dough? You’re good. (If not, add a bit more buttermilk.)
Put the dough onto the counter. Gently, knead the dough with the heel of your hands and push it around until it’s a more supple dough. Form it into a ball. Make an assertive slash across the ball of dough one way, then the other way, to make a cross.
Bake the dough. Open the oven, pull out the oven rack, and put the ball of dough into the hot skillet. Cover the cast-iron skillet with another skillet, big enough to not press down on the dough. Bake for 20 minutes with the lid on. Remove the lid and bake until the top of the bread is browned and crusty. When you lift the bread and tap the bottom of it with your knuckles, the bread should have a hollow thump.
Allow the bread to cool to close to room temperature before breaking off a piece and topping with a hunk of good butter.